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The Zimparks, Lake Kariba Fisheries Research Institute (LKFRI) has launched small-scale fisheries (SSF) project that support loc

by MuHwisiry Chaiyeiye a Patsaka Nyaminyami Community Radio correspondent
27 Mar 2021 at 06:39hrs | Views
Titled, "Setting the stage for successful and sustainable management, development and utilisation of the small-scale fisheries of Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe" is the project that was launched yesterday by the Lake Kariba Fisheries Research Institute (LKFRI). It is a Technical Cooperation Programme between the Government of Zimbabwe and the FAO for enhancing community resilience and sustainability of small-scale fisheries of Lake Kariba. The main objectives of this event held this Friday were to introduce the Government and FAO project to key the stakeholders concerned by the sustenance and development of the small-scale fisheries (SSF) sector of Lake Kariba and to raise awareness about the Inland Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management. The event was held both virtually and physically in Kariba at the Lake Kariba Fisheries Research Institute (LKFRI) and Harare.

It is estimated that around 100 million people eat fish regularly in the SADC region. Fish is generally the most affordable source of dietary animal protein containing essential fatty acids and micronutrients, and is therefore of overwhelming importance for food and nutrition security, particularly for poorer segments of the population, and for sustaining livelihoods and driving economic development (de Graaf and Garibaldi, 2014).

Lake Kariba is located in Southern Africa and forms a border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is an economically significant socio-ecological system that supports the largest sustainable tilapia-fish farming enterprise in Africa (AfDB, 2013), a commercial kapenta fishery that makes a significant contribution to the economies of Zambia and Zimbabwe, small-scale fisheries (SSF) that support local livelihoods, hydropower generation, tourism, sport/recreational fishing, crocodile farming and community aquaculture. Fisheries in Zimbabwe are important for household food security and incomes (Mhlanga & Mhlanga, 2013), SSF of Lake Kariba included. According to FAO (2017), fish production at Lake Kariba has been on the decline since the 1990s. The lake ecosystem is sensitive to perturbations in environmental conditions like droughts. Hydropower generation also has its effects on the lake, especially on water-levels. There are different management regimes from Zambia and Zimbabwe, which have not been well coordinated (FAO, 2017).

The Lake Kariba catchment is one of the primary areas of wilderness and protected areas on the Zimbabwean side. As a result, SSF share space with wild animals, including hippopotamus and man-eating crocodiles on their fishing grounds (Mcgregor, 2005).  There are human-wildlife conflicts both on land and in water that often lead to damage and loss of fishing gear, damage and capsizing of boats and sometimes loss of human life.  The Combination Lakeshore Master Plan and fishery co-management programs were developed in the 1990s as efforts to promote local livelihoods and encourage community involvement in fisheries management. The principle objective of these programs was to improve resource management and encourage the involvement of fishing communities in the management of exclusive fishing zones (Nyikahadzoi and Songore, 1999). Enhancing sustainability of SSF of Lake Kariba is necessary for improving fisheries management and improving availability of fish for food security and economic growth.

SSF on the Zimbabwean side of Lake Kariba comprises of 41 fishing communities, of which 6 are fishing camps on Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA) estate and 35 are permanent fishing villages. The fishing camps composed of cooperatives are regulated directly by ZPWMA the under the Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry (METHI). All cooperatives are registered with the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community Small and Medium Enterprise Development.  The fishing villages in communal areas are regulated by the Rural District Councils (RDCs) through block permits received from ZPWMA as part of the co-management requirements. The fishing villages comprise of people who were displaced during the construction of Kariba Dam. Lake Kariba Fisheries Research Institute (LKFRI) of ZPMWA is responsible for research and monitoring of fisheries in Lake Kariba currently under the headship of Dr Nobuhle Ndhlovu the principal ecologist and project coordinator.

Given the vital socio-economic importance of the fisheries of Lake Kariba, there is need to enhance the resilience in sustainability of SSF. The weak institutional framework and lack of skilled human resource, technical capacity, shortages of financial resources within national budgets has therefore led METHI to approach FAO for technical assistance.  FAO has since been mandated by METHI to facilitate the resuscitation of co-management structures and other activities that enhance resilience of SSF.

The presentation made by the project coordinator cited some of the challenges being faced by Lake Kariba SSF as including:

 - Declining fish catches (Ndebele-Murisa et al, 2011) that result in unavailability of fish for household diet, relatively low household incomes from fishing, limiting SSF' capacities to diversify livelihoods, and lack of access to basic education for some households.

 - Conflicts with other lake users mainly for water space and over damage of fishing gear (nets) by commercial fishing and tourism boats.

 - Limited livelihoods assets, especially assets for fishing like boats and nets, as well as handling and post-harvest facilities.

 - Lack of access to credit and financial facilities which affects SSF' capabilities of diversifying livelihoods.

 - Lack of access to markets. SSF are forced by circumstances to sell fish at prices determined by buyers (which may not be commercially viable).

 - SSF communities are vulnerable to climate and socio-economic changes; ie. loss of fishing days; and in 2016 they experienced, floods that destroyed shelter for some households. Communities perceive the floods were climate change-induced (Ndhlovu, 2018).

This project will open a process to increase the viability of fishing, reduce conflicts, improve infrastructure management, and engage stakeholders more fully in decisions. It will therefore focus on capacity building for the application of the EAFM specifically to the context of Lake Kariba SSF management and development based on tools specifically developed for inland fisheries in Southern Africa. In the context of Lake Kariba the strengthening co-management system has been identified as an important element in facilitating licensing and reducing illegal fishing. Other important activities to achieve possible management objectives include training in post-harvest processing fish-handling and marketing, with a particular focus on existing and active women networks.

 The event was attended by several people with the official opening being done by Hon Nqobizitha. Mangaliso Ndlovu - Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry. Welcome remarks were done by the FAO Representative in Zimbabwe – Mr Patrice Talla, Representative of the ZimParks Director General Dr Fulton Upenyu Mangwanya, Dr Nobuhle Ndhlovu the principal ecologist based at the Kariba station, Inland Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries – FAO Fisheries & Aquaculture Officer- Mr Vasco  Schimdt with closing remarks having been done by PS Mr Munesu Munodawafa - Ministry of Environment. Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry. Kariba locals included Senator James Gumpo, Nesbert Bhibho Mapfumo, John Tafadzwa Chirinda, District Development Coordinator, Nyaminyami Rural District Council CEO among other players in the industry.  

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Source - MuHwisiry Chaiyeiye a Patsaka Nyaminyami Community Radio correspondent

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